CCM Preparation with Ethics in Mind

CCM preparation with ethics in mind:

Swim with the current, stand like a rock

swimming with the current“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” When it comes to helping case management clients achieve their goals, Thomas Jefferson’s words were never truer. Every day, case managers need flexibility while standing firmly on ethical principles and standards.

When you earn the CCM, you’ve demonstrated you have the knowledge and skills to practice with excellence. But CCMs also represent a professional code and standard of practice. The Commission’s values include advocacy for consumer protection, quality case management practice, and ethical standards and behavior. That’s why the CCM exam includes the ethics, legal and practice standards knowledge domain.

Professional ethics are integral to case management. Becoming board-certified isn’t just about knowing facts and demonstrating skills. Case management requires critical thinking and good judgment. We want to nurture a case management community that asks questions and considers the implications and consequences of our actions in the context of ethical principles.

Naturally, exam preparation should include the study and understanding of the ethical, legal and practice standards of case management. The Commission’s Code of Professional Conduct for Case Managers (the Code) is the best place to start. It includes eight overarching principles and six rules of conduct, plus the scope of practice, standards for conduct, and the procedures for anyone to file a complaint. It intentionally provides a framework—not specifics—for ethical practice so case managers understand their responsibility to apply the Code wisely, practicing good judgment.

The Code, which is accepted across the industry as the ethical standard for case managers, was adopted by the Commission on November 1996 and was last updated in 2015. In many ways, it defines the profession and undergirds our ability to practice independently. Case managers who carry the CCM credential commit to advocating ethically for their clients, putting the client’s safety, privacy, and autonomy first.

In the context of an ever-changing health care landscape, it’s telling that the eight principles maintain their applicability. For example, the first principle, “Board-certified case managers will place the public interest above their own at all times,” ensures that we actively advocate for the client. That ethical standard helps all board-certified case managers uphold consumer trust. These principles and standards provide the ethical baseline for case managers and the support needed to take a stand when challenged by an employer, a caregiver or anyone else. Because board-certified case managers agree to follow the code, we can say with confidence, “I can’t do that,” while pointing to the Code and explaining why.

Because eight ethics CEs are required every five years for recertification, the Commission also provides a range of ethics continuing education materials. You can take advantage of one of these opportunities to view materials and then quiz your understanding of the Code at no charge, all on the CMLearning Network® platform. You only need your to log in—the same one you created when you applied for certification.

The Commission’s Code, exam, education requirements, CMLearning Network and Case Manager Body of Knowledge® contribute to our overall vision for the advancement and evolution of case management. As board-certified case managers, our commitment to the Code sets us apart as advocates who recognize that our actions or inactions play a critical role in helping clients achieve optimal health.

Vivian CampagnaVivian Campagna, MSN, RN-BC, CCM is the chief industry relations officer (CIRO) for The Commission for Case Manager Certification. As CIRO, Vivian’s primary focus is to work with individuals and/or organizations that are interested in Certification (CCM®/CDMS®), related products and services through CCMC’s broader marketing and promotions efforts; foster strategic partnerships and alliances; and provide insight and guidance related to industry trends and developments.


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How to use the Knowledge Domains to Study for the CCM Exam

We recently received this article written by Vivian Campagna, MSN, RN-BC, CCM, from CCMC and thought it would be beneficial to know how to use the knowledge domains to study for the CCM. (Note the highlighter tip, which is part of Deanna’s Successful Study Strategies.)

Whenever I’m with a group of case managers, it’s common to get questions about the essential knowledge domains and corresponding subdomains used as the content blueprint for the exam. Where do they come from? Why do they matter? And (the most frequent question) how do I use them to study?

The CCM® exam is designed to evaluate a case manager’s job-based competency. That requires us to stay on top of current trends and practices in case management. The Commission is the only case management certification body that fields a research-based survey every five years (the CCMC Role and Function Study), to ensure we do just that. We ask thousands of case managers—both certified and not yet certified—about knowledge, skills and activities required in today’s practice. The robust, statistically significant findings inform the knowledge tested by the CCM exam and that’s where the knowledge domains come from.

The most recent study identified five major domains of essential knowledge, each of which represents the core knowledge used by case management professionals across the care continuum. Every time the exam is administered, it contains a carefully weighted number of “items” (questions) from each of the knowledge domains. In that way, the exam as a whole reflects the job-based competency knowledge, skills and activities revealed through the Role and Function Study. That’s important to employers and the health care industry because it’s assurance that a CCM is truly prepared with the essential knowledge required to perform the job with competence.

To further illuminate the essential knowledge included within those domains, the Commission divides them into more than 80 subdomains. So, for example, the Ethical, Legal, and Practice Standards domain has a dozen subdomains that include what types of ethical, legal and practice standards are tested on the CCM exam.

When applicants first see that long list of subdomains in the Certification Guide, it can be intimidating. That’s a lot of information to study!

I prefer to look at the knowledge domains and subdomains as a means to focus the majority of study time on areas where you don’t use the knowledge regularly in your work. So, for example, if your job doesn’t touch much on rehabilitation, that’s a knowledge domain you’ll need to study more.

There are some simple tricks to ease your mind when you look at that long list. First, print out the knowledge domains and subdomains so you have a hard copy in hand. You’ll find a handy version in our new Develop Others toolkit.

Next, take a highlighter and mark the subdomains where you have the most familiarity with the content. Then take a different colored highlighter and mark the areas where you have less experience or don’t use the information as often in your work.

Now you have a document to guide your study and focus. Although you’ll need to review information in all the knowledge domains and subdomains before taking the exam, the areas highlighted with the second color are the ones you’ll need to focus more time and effort to learn. (Hat-tip to Deanna Gillingham for the highlighter study idea!)

With your study topics prioritized, we recommend you set aside regular study periods at least three times a week (more often, depending on how much preparation you need) to review knowledge domain and subdomain content. The Commission’s new Pocket Prep study roadmap is a high-intensity guide for CCM exam prep based on an eight-week circuit. It moves you in a stepwise fashion through the knowledge domains, and also offers guidance for studying the required glossary terms (using the Commission’s official CCM Glossary App (1) is a smart study tip as well). Whether you complete the circuit once, twice, or even more, the Pocket Prep study roadmap is a handy way to ensure you’re systematically using the knowledge domains as the framework for your CCM exam preparation.

Getting certified is itself a journey that strengthens your skill set and adds to your professional knowledge. That’s a comment I often hear, too. Knowing that the knowledge framework on which the exam is based is relevant, validated and representative of case management practice across the care continuum only adds to the value of the CCM credential—for those who hold it and for the clients and employers who rely on what it represents.

Vivian Campagna, MSN, RN-BC, CCM is the chief industry relations officer (CIRO) for The Commission for Case Manager Certification. As CIRO, Vivian’s primary focus is to work with individuals and/or organizations that are interested in Certification (CCM®/CDMS®), related products and services through CCMC’s broader marketing and promotions efforts; foster strategic partnerships and alliances; and provide insight and guidance related to industry trends and developments.

1Purchase of the CCM Glossary App or any other CCM study materials is NOT required for certification and does not guarantee the applicant will pass the exam.

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